Ceiling Height: The Highs and Lows

Growing up, I saw mainly your standard 8-foot ceilings. Then I lived in a flat in Germany where the ceilings (and the beautiful windows) absolutely soared. But I was only in Berlin for a year, so the culture shock I felt upon returning to the States did not involve ceiling height oppression. Now in new construction, ceilings seem to have shot up to a respectable 10 feet or so, but here I sit, writing this in a classic revival Cape with its 8 footers. Which frankly, never even caught my eye until I started looking into ceiling heights, and now I keep looking up, wondering if I ought to feel oppressed by my low ceilings.

According to an Apartment Therapy survey, the majority of people prefer a ceiling height in the 8-10 foot range, with ceilings that are ‘at least 10 feet’ a close second and very few people preferring 8-foot ceilings or something even shorter. Me? I loved the high ceilings I had in Germany and then again in Brooklyn, but I wasn’t the one paying the heating bills. And really, I love the coziness of my Cape – a quality that is in part due to the low ceilings. Also, I pay for heat now, so low ceilings are def a plus. In other words, I’d say there are benefits and drawbacks to every ceiling height, standard and taller. (I can’t think of any benefits of anything lower than 8, though.)

Since I’ve experienced plenty of both, I thought I’d talk today about some pros and cons of high ceilings and low ceilings.

HIGH CEILINGS

The Pros: They look awesome, and some people find that they feel freer in a space with high ceilings. You’ll never have trouble decorating a space with high ceilings because you’re not limited by furniture height or the size of wall art. And you can toy with the idea of a painted ceiling, if you like.

The Cons: Supposedly, a room with a high ceiling can make inhabitants feel small and insignificant, though I never noticed this myself. In a room with high ceilings, the eye is drawn to the height of the room, making the horizontal dimensions of the room seem narrower. Spaces with high ceilings can be more difficult to heat and cool, depending on the design of the home.

LOW CEILINGS

The Pros: A lower ceiling can make a small room appear wider. Easier to heat and cool, if only by virtue of there being less airspace needing temp control. Some people find low ceilings cozier and homier than high ceilings.

The Cons: Decorative ceilings and thick crown molding and things like chair rails are right out, and tall people can feel decidedly cramped even if you don’t draw attention to the lowness of the ceilings. That feeling might be even more acute in a wide room. It’s tough to find the right ceiling fans and also to jump on the bed, boo.

I told you, now you tell me: How tall are the ceilings where you live? And what ceiling height would you actually prefer?

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